- Film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer and interactive entertainment company Eko have debuted #WarGames, an interactive, re-imagined version of MGM’s 1983 film, a story of “hacktivism, modern-day espionage and military intrigue,” per a news release. The six-episode series is available for free at HelloEko.com, the Eko iOS app and Vudu, or ad-free for $2.99.
- Viewers can shape the #WarGames story by tapping or clicking on video feeds of each character, which adds a different perspective to the story. Many cast members filmed themselves with smartphones and webcams to place viewers in the action. The series tracks viewers’ choices and notes their interests to create personalized experiences.
- In other news that shows how the film industry is evolving, Walt Disney Company has announced a strategic reorganization of its businesses into four segments, including the newly formed Direct-to-Consumer and International, which will be led by Kevin Mayer, who has served as Disney’s Chief Strategy Officer since 2015, per a news release. The Direct-to-Consumer and International segment will include Disney’s new streaming service, ownership stake in Hulu and new ESPN+ streaming service.
The new #WarGames series is giving viewers an interactive, personalized TV experience, where different viewers could end up with alternate versions of the story that they helped to create. As film studios and TV networks attempt to reach a new generation of viewers that expect more immersive experiences, such interactive, choose-your-own-adventure series offer new opportunities for creativity and engagement. The trend toward such interactive storytelling has been evident on mobile platforms, with the MGM news pointing to how it is starting to make its way to the other digital platforms.
“Series like #WarGames are uniquely built for how young audiences consume entertainment; digital native audiences expect to engage, and want more than flat, linear content. Interactivity allows viewers to participate in the story, explore, and ultimately builds connection between creators and viewers,” Yoni Bloch, Eko CEO, said in a statement.
TV networks and streaming services are experimenting with breaking the linear storytelling model by leveraging mobile and other digital channels to create more interactive experiences for viewers. Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh created an interactive series for HBO, called “Mosaic,” where audiences could piece together the story and choose from an array of perspectives and plotlines using an app. Netflix released an interactive episode of its animated series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” with several decision points where viewers can choose which plotline to follow.
With its strategic reorganization, Disney is positioning itself as an innovator to offer consumers more choice and personalization in content. The Walt Disney Studios recently named Accenture as a founding member and innovation partner of StudioLAB, a research and development initiative working to reimagine how people experience entertainment from emerging technologies.